Worker Dies in a Stampede at Wal-Mart

This puts a whole new meaning on Black Friday.  Not only is this article tragic and sad, it does not shine a very appealing light on “holiday shoppers.”  Whatever happened to civility and manners while entering a store or a business.  Is a person’s life worth getting that discount of $5 or maybe $10 on a piece of merchandise?  I think not.  To trample a young man and take the doors off their hinges to save a few dollars and be first in line is not in anyway shape or form considered civilized behavior.  Here is the sad story of how this young man lost his life this morning.

A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.

The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.

Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.

“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back.”

The unidentified victim was rushed to an area hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 6:03 a.m., police said.

I can’t believe that no one stopped to help him or make sure he was okay.  My sympathies go out to this man’s family.  I hope that the security cameras caught each and every person that trampled this man to death and that they are prosecuted.  What a truly shameful display and disregard for human life.

19 thoughts on “Worker Dies in a Stampede at Wal-Mart

  1. Oh shoot. I was gonna post this. Please forgive me my bizarre sense of humor but shit like this really amuses me in a sick sort of way. I certainly feel bad about the death and the injuries but it is still sort of interesting to see how F’ed up people are.

  2. I thought Black Friday meant you went into the black, as in profitable, for the year. This year they may change it to Blue Friday, because there won’t be enough revenue to save the store-chains from bankruptcy. Don’t buy gift cards unless you know the store will still be around next year.

    This poor fellow is getting proportional time on CNN. With the Mumbai attacks at over 150 deaths, he barely got mentioned a bit ago.

  3. I thought I heard that a pregnant woman was also knocked down and miscarried.

    I wonder how all those right-to-lifers who think that women who’ve had miscarriages should be investigated for possible murder-to-an-unborn-human-argument grounds would react to that news? Would they hold all the shoppers who were there accountable for that unborn’s death? Would they hold Wal-Mart accountable in anyway?

    Personally, I think there’s something flawed about a capitalisitc system in which the vast majority of your annual operating revenues has to be taken in during one 4-5 week period. Wouldn’t it be more “profitable” for them to close their doors the other eleven months of the year? (They could sell their stuff online and only open actual buildings during December, so they can sell computers to the shoppers who couldn’t buy online because they don’t have computers yet.)

  4. Wayne, the reports of a miscarriage are false.

    This whole scene is due, in large part, to Walmart’s advertising extrememly low prices on select items, then only carrying a few in each store, first come-first served. Walmart’s tactics created this shopping feeding-frenzy.

    So, Walmart Executives, ask yourselves: Is this promotion worth a human life? For that is the high cost behind your low prices.

  5. From CNN minutes ago:
    “While Walmart has not confirmed the stampede took place, it does say a medical emergency caused it to close the store.”

    What the hell do they intend to say officially and when do they intend to say it?

  6. Thanks for the correction, BnF. Just passing along rumors I heard on the TV machine. 🙂

    Still, if it were true (or, as lawyer folk like to put it, “hypothetically speaking”), I wonder where they would come down on that issue. Would they blame the people that actually did it? Or would they blame Wal-Mart for creating the conditions that led to it happening.

    Speaking of which, if you think a jury could be convinced that Wal-Mart’s tactics led to this employee’s death, do you think they could be sued? Or do you think the Wal-Mart employee signed some document somewhere along the hiring process that waived his family’s right to sue for his wrongful death at Wal-Mart’s ‘hands’ (using their customers’ feet)?

  7. Wayne,
    The document the employee was probably forced to sign, as a condition of employment, probably requires a binding arbitration, like Blue Cross/ Blue Shield forces you to sign to get health insurance with your job here in Alabama.
    We need a law passed to void any clause in any contract that requires signing away rights to due process and a jury trial as a condition of employment or in order to obtain job provided benefits.

  8. Wayne,

    two words:

    Workers Compensation.

    That’s the exclusive remedy for workers injured or killed on the job.

    As to whether his estate could sue the shoppers for their negligence, well, someone would have had to have taken down the names and addresses of everyone in the store. If that were done, a valid claim might be pursued under a joint tortfeasor theory of liability.

  9. So, BnF,

    Even in a situation where the employer put the employee into a hazardous situation without proper safety protection, the employer is immune from even a civil lawsuit?

    I realize that based on the argument we’ve posited (that Wal-Mart deliberately created the conditions which allowed this to happen), it would mean putting Capitalism itself on trial (as a practice dangerous to consumers, oddly enough). Would it mean that “Caveat Emptor” would become the Law of the Land?

  10. Sheer madness and greed…..This kind of stuff break’s my heart….Someone die’s because the store’s pramote huge sale’s and crazed shopper’s fight for the one item that may be available…

    A family now grieve’s because their loved one had to work at wally world, likely the only job available…Before the funeral wally world will likely have a new employee to fill his spot…..

    I think often, with the exception of the family, how many people will stop and think of these tragedie’s that happen all over the world every day…How many will offer up a prayer for this young man and his family.? How many…Blessings

  11. W1, I will.

    Wayne, yes. Workers Comp insulates employers from civil lawuits. However, the employer could be liable for fines under OSHA, for example.

  12. I’d like if someone would make some sort of video in which they interview those involved and discuss the sheer absurdity. Like I said stuff like this sort of intrigues me. Behavior is so wild

  13. I’m not absolutely certain that Workers Comp would shield the WM from claims of intentional negligence in which the situation could have been reasonably forseen and avoided i.e., sufficient security and crowd control etc. Even with a workers comp/arbitration agreement it is generally not within the scope of employment that a worker can waive their rights against intentional tortfeasance or negligence of their employer.

  14. Follow-up, Walt.

    In California, there is a code provision for “serious and willful misconduct” which increases the award to the injured employee.

    I honestly doubt the facts of this case would give rise to a serious and willful misconduct charge against Walmart, due to the actions of the third parties.

    Workers Comp is a statutory scheme, and a trade-off. The employee does not have to prove fault on the part of the employer – it’s strict liability. But with that comes a reduction in damages. They’re generally limited to lost wages and medical, with a complex rating scale for permanent partial disability. (at least in California – each state is different)

    CW – how would you draft your pleading to get around Workers Compensations exclusive remedy provisions? Be sure to include the Rowland factors.

  15. While I appreciate the legal knowledge I am still way more interested in the behavior. What do you really think those people were feeling and thinking at the time and upon reflection do you think they find it all sort of odd and really tragically bizarre? Do you think it will change their lives in any meaningful way?

  16. dbadass – it would make for one interesting sociological study…as well as a great premise for an outstanding work of literature…

    how do individuals react to the knowledge that they, in their haste to save a few bucks to buy something for their kids for Christmas, have participated in unknowingly, unthinkingly, killing someone….

    please light a candle, say a prayer, or whatever you do, for the family of the victim, as well as for all those who participated in the rush…..

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